Saturday, July 7, 2007

Gleanings from Silliman Marine Laboratory.

Two days of discussions at the University of Silliman Marine Laboratory. I presented what has been much in my thoughts lately: my long slumbering study of Millepora sp(p). reproduction and zooxanthellae. I will mention a few issues that came up in discussion, besides Millepora sp. studies (needing to be taken up separately).

Reportedly, another of the numerous interesting aspects of the biology and ecology of Millepora spp. is that Sepia sp. only attach their eggs w/in Millepora colonies. Millepora is felt by some persons to be a hardier species than most corals to deteriorating environmental conditions. This runs contrary to a comment heard years ago, that "Millepora is the first to go."

Another thing I heard was that lowest daytime tides are in February: did my hearing betray me? Another comment was that highest tides are in June and December, making sense to me as in Micronesia highest tides are in December.

I was priviledged to sit across from Nida Calumpong, director, for lunch after Alan Verde and Ann Cleveland's seminar on Clownfish and Anemone trophic interactions. Nida now calls herself a botanist; however, she cut her teeth on (if I got this right) Dolabella sp. sea slugs---the topic of her dissertation. I had a similar experience, as in Chuuk Lagoon, my studies of traditional zoological knowledge led me further and further off the expected path, into botanical knowledge.

Tamban and Barringtonia.

In the Caroline Islands an occasional event is a terrible plankton bloom, said by some to be a harbinger of breadfruit season. During such a bloom, called in some places "bubbles," and called by other names in various places, sardines called senif in Chuukese, Herklotsichthys sp., can be poisonous to eat, sometimes a few fishes in an ice chest full. Such blooms need to be studied; I don't know that they ever have. I have been told various things by people in various places in the Caroline Islands: in some localities, it is reported that the smell is so terrible that noone can stay in the area; in Pohnpei according to Ahser Edward, a Marine Biologist, people who have fallen in the water during these blooms have been known to die.

When the topic of Ciguatera came up, Nida shared some very interesting information, including that Tamban (Cebuano) sardines, which may be Herklotsichthys sp. may be poisonous to eat.

Because I studied calendrics in Chuuk Lagoon, and had shared with Nida that I had needed to learn the plants because Caroline Islands fishermen and farmers use plants' blooming or other significant events as markers of various marine events---aggregation of a fish species, or drift log season (also associated with a star), or shark hunting. I was more than intrigued when she shared that one learns to avoid Tamban when Barringtonia is blooming. At that time. These shards of information are more than suggestive.

Dolabella sp. toxicity: ciguatera?

Nida Calumpong also reports that Dolabella sp. (?auricularia) are eaten, and are sometimes toxic: this may be ciguatera! I recall that certain sand-dwelling dinoflagellates are associated with Ciguatera: is this a possible avenue? I was amazed that Filipinos also eat the eggs, packaging them in vinegar in Tanduay bottles, calling them "poor man's caviar". I didn't catch whether the eggs can also be toxic. I was amazed because we used to eat these eggs in Chuuk, calling them Chuukese ramen. I don't know of any incidents of toxicity.

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